Editorial: Hospital screening, program should help in fight against human trafficking

Even Carroll County residents who are concerned about human trafficking, an issue which Gov. Larry Hogan has made combating a priority, probably don’t think it is a major problem in this area. Carroll Hospital does, however, see suspected victims of trafficking. So the hospital is taking some steps to try to ensure it doesn’t become a bigger issue locally.

Besides adding a screening for human trafficking victims to other assessments conducted in the emergency department, Carroll Hospital is hosting a program on human trafficking tonight. That program will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Shauck Auditorium in the hospital’s East Pavilion, and will feature Steven Hess, a victim-witness manager with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

“We’ve had only a few instances where we’ve had patients who we knew were victims of trafficking, but we feel that as a whole we are missing many opportunities to identify these folks,” Tracy Yingling, a forensic nurse and coordinator of the hospital’s Forensic Nurse Examiner program, told us. The hospital defines trafficking as “recruiting or obtaining a person by means of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of labor, or services or sexual exploitation.” Yingling said that a few years ago the hospital started doing an assessment program to identify those at greatest risk of being injured or killed in an intimate partner relationship. The new hospital protocols follow a similar screening to determine if a person might be a victim of trafficking.

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